The child picked up a spiky seed every few steps, sometimes dropping more than they picked up. A bear plushie poked out of their backpack.

When they arrived at the faded, vine-smothered house at the end of the street, they proudly approached the old woman rocking in her chair on the porch.

“What do we have here?”

“Pokies,” came the solemn reply. They carefully heaped them at her feet.

“Hmm.” She leaned forward. Her eyes were very black, with no white at all. “It’s been a long time since I received an offering,” she said. “Tell me child: if you could have anything, what would it be?”

The child stuck out their lips in exaggerated thought. Then they unzipped their backpack and held out the cuddly bear. One arm was coming unstitched.

“Fuzzy is broken,” said the child.

The old woman smiled. “Granted,” she said, and got a needle and thread.

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